Your camera's metering modes can be a bit confusing...which one do you choose??
To achieve correct exposure, your camera has to evaluate the light reflecting from what it is seeing. Your camera has a variety of metering options to fine tune it’s light metering options depending on the situation at hand.
The following information is fairly general - it will give you the idea but refer to your camera user manual for the settings specific to your camera as they may be different - for example ‘Evaluative’ metering is Canon’s main setting, Nikon’s equivalent is ‘Matrix’ metering and Pentax and Sony use the term ‘Multi-segment’ metering.
From Left to Right they are:
- Evaluative: Auto all round intelligent metering including backlit subjects. The camera sets the exposure automatically to suit the scene, favouring the auto focussed area chosen.
- Partial: Metering of the center area covering around 8-13%. For bright backlit subjects and situations where the subject is potentially otherwise going to be under or over exposed.
- Spot: For finite control, metering a 2-4% (or there about) center spot for attention to detail of a particular part of the scene. Useful when your subject is very small and either very dark or light compared to the rest of the scene. Use Spot Metering to make sure your subject is correctly exposed.
- Center-weighted: Centre averaged. Weighted at the centre and then averaged for the rest of the scene. For safe situations - in other words, when lighting is fairly even throughout the scene and you are likely to be putting the subject in the centre of the frame.
Choose Spot and Partial Metering modes intentionally - for a particular situation. If you leave your camera set to either one of these modes for general every day shooting you will randomly take incorrectly exposed photos as wherever the centre spot is placed, it meters for just that spot.
Center weighted metering was originally the basic default ‘safe’ setting, but has been surpassed by the more technically advanced metering modes of “Evaluative’ or ‘Matrix’. The Evaluative/Matrix mode should probably be your standard camera setting for general shooting.
A couple of points to take into account:
1 Because of the complexity of the advanced modes, they may fail you in some situations. I recommend experimenting with all modes to get a feel for what they do.
2 These options won’t be available if you have your camera set on an Auto mode. When on Auto your camera will be set to Evaluative/Matrix mode.
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BUT! Here's a quick tip to have instant control over the exposure that your camera chooses. (this only works if you are not on AUTO)....it's the Exposure Value control! (EV). Find this handy control on your camera and have a play around with it...you'll be surprised how you can instantly override the settings to lighten or darken the image as necessary.
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